What is life like being an ATP CFI?

I’m researching ways to complete my 1,500 hours of flight time after graduating from ATP and have heard people getting hired as a CFI upon graduation.

How soon after graduating do pilots usually get these jobs and what percentage of people who want the job actually get it? (I assume this changes by location but just getting an idea)

What does an ATP pilot make these days (2022)?

How many hours a month do ATP CFI’s get?

Is being a CFI for ATP a full time job? Asking more about if they will give you enough flight hours a month to get to 1,500 hours pretty quick or would I need to pick up other flying jobs on top of that?

I know this is a lot of questions in one thread but i’m just trying to gather as much information as possible about it so my expectations of what life is like while trying to get your 1,500 hours matches reality.



By far the vast majority of new pilots build their flight time via flight instructing. Assuming your goal is to instruct with ATP, the company usually has openings immediately available, if you are willing to relocate to a location that is in need. If you are dead set on a certain location, it might be several months before an opportunity arrises.

Here is a link to ATP instructor pay: Flying as a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) / ATP Flight School I will ask one of our current CFIs to chine in on this with more information.

Yes, an ATP CFI is a full time job. I would expect to fly about 80 hours per month, the process takes about two years including the program itself.

Good questions.




Just to add to Chris’ response, you should know not everyone who want to instruct for ATP gets the opportunity. Instructing for ATP is a great opportunity and they have standards. Pilots with excessive busts or any cases of bad behavior will not be offered positions.

ATP students trust ATP to prepare them for their future and ATP wants to ensure that their students have a positive experience. If your goal is to instruct for ATP that also means being an exemplary student.


I am actually a teacher and a football coach now here in Texas (looking to make a career change following a childhood dream) and feel that it could be a strength of mine teaching as a CFI so I do hope I could get on at the ATP by my house by doing a good job in the program and showing that I would make a great instructor. Thanks Adam for pointing that out! In a way ATP school seems like it’s also a working interview



Hey Brandon!

I’m a current CFI with ATP at their Cincinnati location and I’d love to give you some feedback on my experience as a CFI.

Upon completion of the program, ATP will offer you a position as a CFI based on your success as a student. During COVID this typically meant 0-1 checkride failures and recommendations from previous instructors, but with the recent increase in regional hiring, this has been relaxed a bit and there are more possible openings. Regardless, you should still aim to be an excellent student with very few checkride failures if you would like to continue as a CFI with ATP. The location you would instruct would be dependent on current student/instructor load at each location and how long you would be willing to wait. As of right now, you could start as a CFI with ATP immediately if you are willing to relocate (or if your location needs an instructor).

As an ATP instructor you are paid hourly based on flight time and simulator time (with a ground instruction rate added based on half of flight time). There will be days where you fly a lot a make decent money. But there can also be days where you are in the training center all day, but due to weather or other circumstances (maybe you are just doing grounds), you might make $0. By the end of the month, it typically averages out. I would say that you can expect to average around $2500-3500 a month as a CFI. It will vary based on flight hours and student load. There are additional ways to make money as a CFI with ATP, such as training center tours, intro flights, and PSI test proctoring (if your location has a test center on site)

I would say that ATP CFI’s can expect to average around 80 flight hours per month. This can vary greatly based on the season, weather, aircraft availability, and current training center enrollment. If you are determined and ready to fly all the time, you can definitely fly more than 100 hours a month during the good weather seasons.

Is being a CFI for ATP a full time job? I would say absolutely, yes. There will not be time to pick up other flying jobs on top of that, and I doubt ATP would approve if it affects your instructing availability. The expectation is that you are available 24/7 for flights and sims, and it is in your best interest to always be available. You will find that you achieve your hours much quicker if you are “all in” as an instructor. Sure it might not be ideal, but if your goal is to take that next step in your career as efficiently as possible, this is the way to do it. The timeline for achieving your 1500 hours will increase significantly if you are not flexible with the unexpected events you will experience as a CFI. Despite this, I love my job as a CFI. I’m not sure there is another job (outside of flying) that I would voluntarily come in at 6:45 AM on a Saturday morning when everyone else is at home asleep.

There is a reason ATP only hires instructors who are former students, and it’s primarily because they have been through the program and know what it takes to be successful. My best advice is to be the best student you can, and be flexible (can’t emphasize this enough). As a result, you will set yourself up for success to be a great instructor with ATP!

Let me know if you have any other questions about the program or being a CFI with ATP,



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When I was a student, I treated every day of the program like it was an interview.



Thank you for adding your insights as a current instructor, I appreciate it.



I am going to echo what has been said, but also provide an insight of what my position as a Lead Instructor (TCFSI) at an ATP location and oversee a handful of instructors and dozens of students.

Completing ATP’s program with a 100% record should be your goal from day one, talking about checkride busts and failures shouldn’t even be a discussing of possibility, but here and there we do see failures. Sometimes as students we feel nervous or scared to face the Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) who will evaluate our flying ability. It is our responsibility as instructors to ensure that a student is as fully ready to take that practical test. Before every checkride we have forms that we must have the student sign stating that they are aware and have met the standards of the Airmen Certificate Standards (evaluation criterion) for their checkride.

At successful completion of ATP’s ACPP in good standing and no bad remarks, you are given a form to fill out with an opportunity to choose multiple locations (or first available) to instruct for. Now granted that your training center isn’t on a waitlist, I have been seeing graduates get offers for locations and indoc within a month. I have one student that recently completed the program late January coming back the middle of this month. In the pilot world you have to be open-minded with base locations, if you’re willing to travel to another state and give it a go, there are opportunities for transfer requests when they open up.

Chris answered your number 2 question. One thing to note is you will hear negative feedback across the board on social media or maybe from an Instructor at a training center stating they’re not being paid enough, etc., but the name of the game isn’t to make the most money as a CFI. It is an entry level position similar to working at a grocery chain or a restaurant. There are many regionals that are offering tuition reimbursement and opportunities to earn a little more on top of what ATP pays. Here’s a direct link to find the Partnered Airlines that ATP has established relationships with: Airline Pilot Hiring Partnerships.

As a CFI at ATP, you are also eligible to instruct the new Virtual Ground lessons called Elevate that are for both the Private and Instrument phase where you can make $75 a night doing a 3-hour virtual ground…this is something new that ATP recently came out at the end of last year. This is also a great opportunity to connect and broaden your knowledge teaching material that may be less of a strength and really. Like Roscoe mentioned, you can also proctor exams for Airmen Knowledge Test (AKT) which are required to take specific checkrides.

Being a CFI for is a full-time job, ATP ensures that student to instructor ratio is manageable and that you as an Instructor can adequately spend time with your student to ensure that their needs are met. When I began instructing for ATP I had one student, we are generally seeing across the board that your first student is in the Instrument phase as this gives you an opportunity to adjust and get some experience under your belt before feeling nervous teaching someone to land for the first time; Not everyone is a born natural CFI. I was getting around 40 hours a month average with my first student my first month, as I got a second and third student, I started seeing three-digit numbers, but this was with a lot of work ethic and determination to make my schedule work.

As a Lead Instructor for a training center, I oversee 7 (soon to be 9) instructors and nearly 20 students at the training center, with many more inbound. I ensure that my team members are giving quality and exceptional instruction to ensure the success of our students. I do a lot of “scrubbing” of student’s programs to ensure that consistency of training is being met and quality is being delivered. I am an open line of communication between student and instructor, I like to know what is going on in training center and being the “first-line of defense” for everyone…if I can prevent things from worsening, I will drop what I am doing and put attention to detail. When a student falls behind, I don’t look at someone else, I look at myself and figure out how can I help get a student back on track and what action needs to take place. Sometimes it’s just weather and plane unavailability that sets someone back a day or two, but if someone doesn’t pass a written, I will sit with them and come up with a gameplan to ensure success.

I do coordinate with a Training Support Specialist to ensure that our training center is taken care of both administratively and plane availability. Sometimes I need help, I’m one person and if an evaluation flight needs to happen and I’m reaching my 8-hour instructional limit I reach out. I schedule my week out about two weeks in advance sometimes, others I have to wait for my team members to schedule to make mine.

I love instructing at ATP, I just recently updated my thread “Checking in Ground Level” announcing my signing with Republic Airways RJet Cadet and 1,000th hour…the opportunities are endless at ATP. I came to this forum in September 2019 with the intention of one day pursuing a dream into a reality. I have met so many amazing people from and through ATP where I feel I have an ongoing list in my phone of “Flying Family” that I update daily. If I can think of anything I miss over the weekend I will reply.




Thank you for adding these insights.


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Just wanted to add a bit to this question.
Does ATP provide housing for instructors, especially if they have to relocate? i.e Moving to an ATP Location in New York and paying the $200-225/week to stay in student housing there?

Ben, I had the same question. The most recent answer I can find is this one:

Ben & Craig,
That thread is still correct. Housing is not provided for instructors, however, you’ll find in many locations (especially those with high cost of living) shared housing situations among instructors.